IB chief pleads 'oversight' led to plagiarisation speech

8th October 2010 at 01:00
He apologises for 'unfortunate incident'

An international exam board head caught plagiarising in a public speech has written to schools across the world explaining his embarrassing "oversight".

The TES revealed last month that Jeffrey Beard, director general of the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), was exposed by a US academic institution for passing another educationalist's work off as his own.

Now he has sent a letter to heads of schools that offer the IB, giving his side of what he describes as an "unfortunate incident".

The Chautauga Institution in New York state withdrew Mr Beard's speech from its website and bookshop after discovering that it "was not original work". A day after the speech was delivered, Chautauga expressed its "disappointment", revealing that Mr Beard "drew heavily upon and quoted extensively from a speech given earlier in the year by Sir Ken Robinson", a renowned British educationalist.

Crucially, it made clear that Mr Beard had broken the IBO guidelines on academic honesty. Chautauga said he had neglected to "cite his source or reveal the quotations for what they were". Mr Beard's letter to IB schools admits "this was an oversight on my part".

He goes on to say that he has written to Tom Becker, Chautauga president, who, he claims, had "subsequently accepted my explanation".

But a Chautauga spokesman said Mr Becker had not replied to the letter and had gone no further than accepting Mr Beard's apology.

His letter explains that he was "working off note cards" during his Chautauga speech and failed to mention all the references he was using.

"When I was able to finally speak to the institution, I was able to confirm all of the sources I had used and stated that, had this been a published paper, there certainly would have been a complete and thorough reference listing," Mr Beard writes.

In his defence he quotes Nicholas Tate, chair of the IB education committee, who described the failure to cite Sir Ken as "regrettable".

But Dr Tate, a former head of Winchester School and former Qualification and Curriculum Authority chief executive, adds: "There are different standards and customs that apply to scholarly papers, examination answers and wide-ranging talks at conferences.

"It is just not sensible to apply the rules covering the first two situations to the third."

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